James Connor

James P. Connor, 80, passed on to his Heavenly home February 16, 2018 surrounded by his loving family. A memorial Mass will be held Saturday, March 3 at 11 a.m. with visitation an hour before at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Waukon with Fr. Mark Osterhaus and Rev. Msgr. Ed Lechtenberg as the Concelebrants.

James Peyton Connor was born October 11, 1937 at Hull House in Waukon, the son of Miles “Mike” and Virginia “Tiny” (Peyton) Connor. He was baptized and confirmed at St. Patrick Catholic Church. They lived in Waukon, where Jim attended grade school at St. Patrick Catholic School, then briefly lived in Tomah, WI before settling in Lansing, where he attended Immaculate Conception Catholic School starting in seventh grade, graduating in 1955. There he played baseball and basketball and acted in school plays.

He met his high school sweetheart, Micki Stirn, in Lansing and the couple enjoyed going to hear big bands and dancing at every opportunity. They married September 19, 1960 at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church.

Jim attended Loras College and then graduated from Upper Iowa University with a major in English and minor in History. The couple lived in Florida, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri and Illinois before returning to Iowa, settling in Waukon, where they raised their daughters. Jim was first an English teacher and coach, then an insurance adjuster and taught at Northeast Iowa Community College. They also owned the Opera House in Waukon where they held wedding dances, auctions with Jim auctioneering, and ran a rollerskating rink to provide a fun activity for the local children.

Jim created the Clothes Closet in Waukon 47 years ago (building the first donation boxes) to help the underprivileged, which became St. Vincent de Paul Society and continues today as St. Patrick’s Thrift Store. He was an active member of the Democratic Party, the Jaycees doing charity work and playing on their softball team, Allamakee Community Players theatre and St. Patrick Parish, where he taught CCD and sang in the choir.

He loved taking family trips to historical places and the ocean and spent many happy winters with his youngest daughter and family in California. He also enjoyed vacationing in Las Vegas with his sister, father and Micki, as well as travels with friends in his youth, especially his trip to New Orleans to hear live music. He was proud of his 100% Irish heritage and enjoyed genealogy research, storytelling and had a quick wit and intellect. A compassionate humanitarian, he championed the rights of all oppressed people and the environment.

He was an avid reader (of poetry, novels, biographies and history), a music aficionado, film buff and a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers, Chicago Cubs and Iowa Hawkeyes. Jim was a proud husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, affectionately known as “Bapa,” partaking in all of their activities and providing endless love and support. Jim said his greatest achievement was his loving family.

Jim bravely battled Parkinson’s disease and spent the last couple years at Northgate Care Center in Waukon. He was visited every day by Micki, who was the director of nurses there for most of her career, as well as a constant stream of family and friends (including the amazing staff). Still generous in death, Jim donated his body to the University of Iowa for research.

He was preceded in death by his parents; his loving sister, Carole Ann Mooney; his brother, Bob; his in-laws, Leo and Milli Stirn; his sister-in-law, Roseanne Connor; his nephew, Kyle Sullivan; and his grandparents, including his beloved grandmother, Elizabeth (Brady) Peyton.

Jim is survived by his devoted family that includes his wife, Micki; his three daughters, Kealy (Greg) Lonning, Kerry (Ray) Wacker and Kathy (Andrew Hirsch) Connor; his 10 grandchildren, Carlyn (Nick) Lechtenberg, Connor (Angie Williamson) Lonning, Peyton (Joey) Lapel, Mara Connor, Moran Lonning, Mullen (Seth Beisker) Wacker, Gable Lonning, Gara Lonning, Summer Lonning and Shanae Lonning; his three great-grandsons, Griffin Beisker, Cavan Lapel and Stirn Lechtenberg; his brother-in-law, Tom Mooney; Micki’s siblings and their spouses; as well as many nieces and nephews.

Memorials can be made in Jim’s honor to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

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